‘Out of the dark, into the light’

Andrew Purnell

‘We all know life can present many challenges, twists and turns. However, one never expects to be challenged by a life-threatening condition completely out of the blue. My life and my families changed on the morning of the 9th March 2015 when out of the blue I suffered a grade 4 sub arachnoid brain haemorrhage. What started as a severe headache ended with 7 months in hospital and a 3 months slog in rehabilitation in Rookwood Cardiff.

Well I like a challenge but nothing prepared me for this one. Learning to walk again, talk properly etc was all approached with a philosophy that it’s better to try and fail than not try at all. The support given by family and professionals, both physical and psychiatric has been nothing short of extraordinary. It is fair to say it has not been all plain sailing, the neuro changes in your brain post ABI will alter you from what you were to a new different person. Sometimes positive other times negative. But with perseverance and effort the brain and its neuro plasticity are capable of re wiring.

Over the last 3 years I have gradually set myself a series of sensible objectives to focus the mind and keep me moving forward. My mistakes and failures have taught me more than my successes. Better to try and fail than not try has been my mantra. My main achievements other than survival, have been to function as best I can to get back to as near the person I used to be and strive to enjoy life with my family and help fellow ABI suffers. To accept that some things will never be as before has been a battle. I could wax lyrical for pages on my experience’s, lessons learnt, what to try and do, what I have achieved, but we are all wired differently and what has benefited me may not work for all ABI sufferers. Try what suites you and your circumstances, try to never give in and learn the lessons from your failures as well as your successes.’

Andrew has compiled a book of his poems, inspired by his experiences of brain injury, which he has made available to purchase to help raise money for Headway Cardiff & South East Wales. He says:

‘I enjoy a read of a good book, and was reading one recently with some poems in it. Hence, I thought let’s have a bash. I have found it inspirational and rewarding it has allowed me to revisit challenges and experiences I have been through and conquered. I intend to carry on developing the brain injury theme in different poetic formats. As it is relaxing and challenging. In terms of my general life, I am never bored, be it due to business, matters, cycling in groups and my work with Headway South Wales.

My best advise to fellow ABI suffers is to experiment in as many activities, groups and pastimes you can to find what helps and suites you. Keep on challenging yourself whether it physically or mentally. You are still a person and can have a lot to offer. It is far better to TRY & FAIL than to not give it a go. Remember Life will go on with or without you.

I have gained a great deal from my relationship with Headway Cardiff. One of the main benefits is to meet, talk and socialise with fellow ABI suffers. It makes you realise you are not exclusive in the issues you and your partners experience. Also, it gives me great pleasure to help them raise funds and help organise events and groups.’

To find out more and purchase a copy of the poetry book, please donate via Andrew’s Facebook Donate page and comment with your details. Alternatively, email kathryn.jones@headwaycardiff.org.uk or call 02920577707 and ask for Kathryn.